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5 Art Supplies for the Curious But Hesitant Beginner

Adding some art-making to your creative practice might feel daunting, especially if you have never played around with art supplies before. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by all the options out there. Maybe you feel like you need to learn "how" to use supplies before you start. Maybe you feel that as a "non-artist", you don't have a right to be playing around with art supplies.

Let's set that record straight. Art materials are for everyone. That means you. You do NOT need to invest in classes or expensive tools to start creating. You do NOT need to identify as an artist to get yourself some fun things to try. You do NOT need to have previous experience. You get to play around with anything that feels good to you.

I talk a lot about creativity being separate from art, and it absolutely is. There are a gazillion ways to be creative and never pick up a paintbrush or dig your hands in clay. But you know what? Playing with art supplies is just plain fun. And it is a great way to channel you inner creativity at the same time.

I do not identify as an artist, and yet creativity and art tools are at the center of my work (and life, if I'm being honest). I play with different things all the time because it brings me great joy. I also love the process of creating something and then stepping back to see what it says to me. I learn a lot about myself when I play around with art. I think you will too.

Start Simple

Choose one or two things that feel like they might be fun. Go with your gut on this - there are no rules to what you should have around to play with.

Here are five things that I think are great places to start.

A good pad of paper. I like multi-media paper because you can do so many different things on it - draw, collage, even paint. Get a nice thick pad.

Oil pastels. They are so satisfying to use, and allow you to play with bold, vibrant strokes. I see them as grown up crayons, except way more fun. They force you to make bold marks which can be helpful in helping free your creative energy.

Glue stick. One of the easiest ways to start playing around is by making collages. All you need is a few magazines, paper, and a glue stick. Glue sticks are staples in my home.

Fine-tipped markers. When I was a kid, Le Pens were all the rage. I coveted them. Now there are many more options out there to choose from, but don't get paralyzed by al the choices, just choose what is easy and accessible. These markers are great for doodling, making small designs, and adding words to designs. I find them very satisfying to use too.

Index cards. This may sound like an odd choice, but hear me out. A small surface area can be less scary to cover as you begin to play with image-making. And you can feel successful by making a quick doodle or image on a card each day. Also, I love to do tiny collages or making phrases from words and images in magazines. Quick and fun!

Now Be Curious and Play!

Now that you have some supplies to experiment with, embrace your curiosity. Grab some paper, and whatever medium you have chosen, and make a mark. Then another one. See how it feels to run the marker (or whatever you are using) across the paper. Make a bold line, then a thin one. Make dots. Write your name. Press hard, press lightly. Play and have fun just experiencing what you are doing. Remember, this is something you are doing for you, and no one else, so be as non-judgmental and free as you can. There is no wrong, right, good, or bad way to do this!

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